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Why crickets may soon jump onto your dining table

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Crickets
Crickets from Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology’s insect farm. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It used to be that two sorts of people in this part of western Kenya ate crickets: the hungry, and singers who believed consuming the chirping insects would improve their voice.

Times have changed. In recent years the business of rearing insects for human consumption – known as entomophagy – has begun to take off in Kenya.

That’s in part because there is more interest in alternative, sustainable sources of protein as climate change, population growth, and intensive farming and grazing increase pressure on land and water, according to experts at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe), a Kenyan-based research body.

Former motorbike taxi driver Rogers Oduli used to be sceptic about the six-legged food. Now he works at one of the largest bug farms in Kisumu, the region’s main city.

“These are the pinheads,” he said, lifting the lid on a plastic box of baby crickets to show hundreds of black dots bouncing around on green leaves.

“We give them kale, for vitamins,” he said. Like many his age, 26-year-old Oduli once regarded insects as inedible, and believed eating them was a tradition that had died out with his grandparents. No longer.

After two weeks on the job, he sampled the crickets – which are sold dried and whole in bags, or ground up and used in breads and sweets at the farm shop – and was converted.

“They taste sweet to me, and they’re nice because they’re high in protein and make me feel good,” he said. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates at least two billion people worldwide eat more than 1,900 species of insects. Beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts and crickets are the most popular.

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Many insects are nutritious and a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, the FAO notes. The increased interest in insect-farming comes as global population growth and an expanding middle class have raised per capita meat consumption by 50 per cent over four decades, fuelling fears of a protein pinch. In rich nations, eating insects is becoming less taboo. And in poorer countries – the ones often increasingly bearing the brunt of climate change – startups and charities are reviving centuries-old customs of eating insects, or getting them into diets for the first time.

Over the past five years, a joint Dutch-Kenyan-Ugandan initiative called the Flying Food project has worked to get more than 1,000 people living around Lake Victoria in Kenya and Uganda to become cricket farmers or consumers. The aim is to improve wealth and health in places where farming is already suffering due to land degradation from climate change and overuse, said Kenya coordinator Phoebe Owuor.

“We soon might not have enough soil to even grow food, let alone keep animals, because we have destroyed it,” Ms Owuor said. “In the next 20 to 30 years, we might not even have cows, and we will have to depend on insects.”

Backed by Rafode, a micro-finance institution, the project has provided 100 farmers around Kisumu – and another 100 in Uganda – with a $800 loan each to cover equipment, a starter stock of parent crickets and training over the first year.

Among the farms supported is the one where Mr Oduli works – and another 100 farmers in Kenya will have loans by the end of October, project backers say. The Flying Food project also works to build supply and demand from local markets to ensure success, said project manager Erwin Beckers.

Typically, a farmer can expect to produce eight kilogrammes of crickets monthly, worth Ksh700 ($7) per kilogramme, said Mr Beckers – although yields over the past year have been lower due to disease and flooding.

Andrew Magunga farmed crickets in buckets for years before he joined the project and began to rear in crates what he believes is the food of the future.

“I studied the food chain and realised that soon our lake will be depleted – (and) fish is the main ingredient for our food and animal feeds,” he said.

Mr Magunga earns up to $400 a year harvesting crickets, a job that takes him a few hours each day, and another $1,000 annually working part-time in information technology at a college.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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